Tag: Centennial High School

The List of Coaches for the 2019-20 Sports Season is Out Now

Words: Thomas Hitt

Congratulations to all the coaches below who were selected for the fall and winter sports season of 2019-20.

Fall Coaches

Boys Cross Country Head Coach – Robert Slopek

JV Field Hockey Coach – Ying Schaik

JV Football Coach – Dominic Peters

Varsity Girls Soccer Head Coach – Hank Hurren

Grade 9 Volleyball Coach – Michelle Riley

Head JV Volleyball Coach – Kenny Mills (previously 9th Grade V-Ball Coach)

Winter Coach

Varsity Boys Basketball Head Coach – Chris Sanders (previously JV Boys Basketball)


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Graduation Speech From Teacher of the Year, Sara Duran

Attached is Teacher of the Year Sara Duran’s 2019 graduation speech.
Full graduation audio is linked below. To listen to Duran’s speech, go to 14:00.


Good Morning! It’s nice to see you again; I’ve missed you over the last week.

I’m honored to stand up here today, not just as your Senior Class Teacher of the Year, but more so as one of your biggest fans. From the time I met you as sophomores in 2016, I have been wowed by your accomplishments, your tendency for kindness, and your universal hatred for learning vocabulary— I know those orange Sadlier Oxford books will likely stay in your memory longer than the words ever did. But for as much as you hated learning vocabulary, it wouldn’t feel on brand for me to send you off without one last lesson. This one starts with the word ACCEPTANCE.

ACCEPTANCE. Undoubtedly, many of you have become acquainted with this word over the last year. It has represented your anxiety for the future and served as validation of your hard-work. It’s a word I, myself, chased furiously throughout my own senior year. But it came into your lives, and mine, long before we understood it to mean the big white envelope or carefully worded email that granted us entrance into a program or institution. No, our first interpretation was instilled in us at a young age, and has no doubt been reinforced by the school system you, and I, have had the privilege of attending. We were taught to ACCEPT those who were different regardless of race, gender, or religion. We were encouraged to ACCEPT kids who didn’t look like us, who didn’t talk like us, and who didn’t dress like us. You were taught that. And YOU HAVE DONE that. YOU have ACCEPTED a student body that represents six of the seven continents, speaks over 20 languages, and practices just as many religions.

And though you, like I, have had the privilege of growing up in communities that allow for the possibility of this kind of ACCEPTANCE, ACCEPTANCE of difference is just NOT ENOUGH.

Several years ago, I came across a poem by William Stafford that challenged my own compliance with ACCEPTANCE. [The first stanza has ingrained itself into the fiber of my core; he writes:]

“If you don’t know the kind of person I am and I don’t know the kind of person you are a pattern that others made may prevail in the world and following the wrong god home we may miss OUR star.”

This poem reinforces a vital need to UNDERSTAND difference. An UNDERSTANDING that goes beyond what we have been taught: The blind ACCEPTANCE borne out of privilege– the privilege you and I share– which asks us to passively allow difference into our lives, even encourages us to look past it. This lesson is dangerously limiting.

On my first day at Centennial– before any students even showed up– one of my colleagues (whom I won’t name) insisted I was a student, so much so that I wasn’t allowed into my classroom.  I’ll admit, I was flattered. Here I was, several years out of high school, and apparently I still looked like a high schooler. But since then. My age is not the only thing for which I have been MISUNDERSTOOD. TO CLARIFY: Yes, I speak Spanish, but no, I am not a Spanish teacher. No, I was not born in the US, but YES, I’m a US citizen. In each of these instances, I was ACCEPTED for my differences, but my story was not UNDERSTOOD. I bring this up not to throw shade at any individual, but rather, to demonstrate the need for actively seeking UNDERSTANDING of others. Because, as William Stafford explains in his poem, “if you don’t know the kind of person I am” you will be inclined to ACCEPT the truths inherited through your privilege, but not driven to discover if they actually are true. And “if I don’t know the kind of person you are,” I will ACCEPT the position in the world my privilege has limited me to. So we must change the word. From ACCEPT to UNDERSTAND.

In UNDERSTANDING others, you have to recognize your privilege as graduates of the Howard County Public School System, for which you should be grateful, but which you cannot allow to limit you to passive ACCEPTANCE. You must seek to do more than allow difference into your lives. You must actively seek out the stories of those who are not like you. You must learn their names, their histories, their voices. You must do more than ACCEPT difference as those things that set you apart in just race, gender, and religion. You must pursue difference as everything that is not you. You must force difference to change you. Continually. ALWAYS.

So as you seek your star, immerse yourself in environments that are different from your own. Engross yourself in the people who fill those spaces. Absorb their stories into your own. And only then can you truly UNDERSTAND.

Ultimately, it all comes back to words, right? It has always been about words. It will always be about words. Acceptance. Understanding. Words that don’t even appear in that little orange book. And they never will, because the words that really matter are the words that are defined by the actions of our lives.

Moving into the next scene of your story, your encounters will span the world over, will include languages you’ve never even heard of, and will present belief systems that can’t be quantified. SO live this word. Expand your ability to ACCEPT into your capacity to UNDERSTAND. In turn, you will manifest greatness into the world.

You already know that I think you’re remarkable. So I will give back to you the words you offered me a couple weeks ago: “YOU GOT THIS. And it’s okay to cry if you need to.”

Congratulations, Class of 2019. Now, for the last time, I’m gonna have to ask you to please spit out your gum.


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Tennis State Championships at the WLTC

Words: Hoang-Phi Quy & Joey Sedlacko

After a terrific season of various scrimmages and games, the Centennial Tennis season wrapped up with the state tournament, held at the Wilde Lake Tennis Club on May 24 and 25.

Centennial started the tournament strongly. Centennial’s Olivia Tsai and Christopher Chen achieved third place in the mixed doubles bracket.

In the boys’ singles bracket, Richard Huang fell out early in the quarterfinals against Bel Air.

However, Danny Ho and Ryan Huang made it to the finals in the boys’ doubles bracket, losing only to Rockville.

Later in the tournament, Centennial’s high placements continued with Rose Huang, who finished in third place in the girls’ singles bracket.

The tennis team finished off strong in the final matches, with players Shreya Vallimanalan and Abby Jackson finishing in second place in the girls’ doubles bracket.

The tennis team earned first place overall in the point system. Centennial finished with 36 points in the state tournament and 26 points in the regional tournament, for a combined total of 62 points. Huntington High School came in second with 52 points.

Photos contributed by Principal Cynthia Dillon


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Centennial Cheers on Law Enforcement Torch Run

Words: Caleb McClatchey

Photos: Zach Grable

Centennial students and staff took a break from their usual routine Thursday morning to support the Law Enforcement Torch Run, a public awareness and fundraising group which supports the Special Olympics.

As students clapped and cheered, law enforcement, along with some Special Olympics athletes, ran down Centennial Lane carrying the Flame of Hope, the Special Olympics torch.

In preparation for the Special Olympics Maryland Summer Games, the torch has been passed between Maryland counties. The games are set to begin this Friday at Towson University.

Each year, 97,000 law enforcement officers participate in the Law Enforcement Torch Run, carrying the Flame of Hope into local, state, national, and world competitions.


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2023 Eagles Visit the Nest

Words & Photos: Ellie Zoller-Gritz

On Wednesday, June 5, the incoming freshmen visited Centennial in preparation for next year. They participated in a tour and viewed performances from dance, band, choir, and the color guard. They also had a question and answer session with a student panel hosted by current 9th, 10th, and 11th graders.


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Brandon Du and Krystal Wu play with the Columbia Orchestra

Words: Sarah Paz

On Saturday, May 18, Centennial freshmen Brandon Du and Krystal Wu, winners of the Columbia Orchestra Young Artist Competition, played with the Columbia Orchestra and vocalist Kelli Young at the Jim Rouse Theatre. Wu played the clarinet while Du played the violin.

Du, who has previously played in the Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestra and the National Chambers, said, “the performance went well… Overall, I think the concert was very well organized and all the soloists were amazing, of course.”

The concert, called The Rite of Spring, featured “Symphony No. 2” by Carlos Chávez, “Sensemayá” by Silvestre Revueltas, “The Rite of Spring” by Igor Stravinsky, and “Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5” by Heitor Villa-Lobos.


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Cosining Off: Math Teacher Mr. Coe Retires

Words: Delanie Tucker

Photo: Eliza Andrew

For the past 37 years at Centennial High School, students have walked the halls, whispering about a certain class and how its teacher never fails to match his shoes to his outfit.

Math teacher Alan Coe is commonly known for his coordinating clothes, sarcasm, and, more often than not, strictness in the classroom.

It’s no secret that his class is harder than most, but at the end of the day, his students have nothing but positive things to say about their experiences in his class and, more specifically, their bittersweet feelings towards his retirement.

“While the material was rigorous and often confusing, Coe was always very dedicated to helping students understand the material,” junior Piper Berry commented. “He would always answer my millions of questions until I understood the concept.”

Berry had Coe for two years, and during that time he left quite the impression.

“Coe taught me that I am capable of way more than I think I am. He always encouraged me to try my best and keep going when I was stuck,” Berry stated. “Even when I would doubt myself he would push me to keep trying and believe I could do it instead of giving up.”

Sophomore Kiran Vepa said, “It was a hard class, sure, but nothing I couldn’t handle. It sucks that he’s leaving, though, because he made an impact on so many people and now no one else will get to experience that.”

Prior to working at Centennial, Coe studied at Buffalo State College in New York, majoring in teaching and minoring in mathematics.

Out of college, he did three years of teaching in Virginia and Southern Maryland, before settling in Howard County.

Centennial was a new environment for everyone involved, as it was a fairly new school, but Coe adjusted easily and enjoyed the spirited atmosphere the school upheld.

“In the first 15 or 20 years of being here there was a whole lot of school spirit, and it wasn’t just around the academics,” Coe stated. “It was a sports-oriented school. This school was huge in athletics.”

Another thing Coe has grown to admire about Centennial is what it teaches.

“[Centennial is] driven to make sure students are ready for everything that they are going to do,” Coe said. “Whether they go into college or go into a career, it really does try and get them ready for the next step.”

As for his own impact on Centennial, he believes he has done well to teach his students independence, and that they will carry that skill with them as they finish high school and move into college.

According to Coe, he taught them “to be able to think on their own. To not have to rely on someone else to tell them exactly what to do.”

While Alan Coe has been making a difference at Centennial for a long time, he is not the only one who will leave a lasting impact on the school. His daughter, Kayleigh Coe, is another Eagle who will be leaving at the end of this school year.

As a freshman at Centennial, Kayleigh was more out of the loop than most. She went to a middle school with kids that would go to Mount Hebron High School, which is where she would have gone had her father not been a teacher at CHS.

“At first, I was hesitant because I was leaving all my friends,” Coe stated. “However, I realized that I was going to have an opportunity to make new ones.”

Despite her unfamiliarity with her fellow classmates, the school itself was nothing new, as she “grew up here and scootered around the hallways.”

“I will definitely miss that once I graduate and my dad retires.”

Another thing Kayleigh will miss as she moves on to college is her English teacher, Sara Duran.

“[Duran] has taught me so much in the two years that I have had her,” Coe expressed. “She inspires me almost every day to try and never give up.”

Similarly, Duran expressed her feelings on having Kayleigh as a student, and how her presence in the classroom made a difference.

“Kayleigh was a very dedicated student and constantly came to class prepared,” Duran commented. “She was a pleasure to have in class both years and I know that my class would have been a completely different place had she not been there.”

Regardless of her father being a teacher, Coe’s academic success was due to her own motivation and determination to work hard in the classroom.

She explained that her parents never had to push her in school, and her father’s presence in the school hardly affected her work rate.

“I don’t think going to my dad’s school made me try harder,” Kayleigh Coe said. “I already try hard in all of my classes.”

Coe continued by saying, “My parents don’t really put any pressure on me with grades because I already put enough pressure on myself.”

This consistent work effort in school was awarded with an academic scholarship to West Virginia University.

Even though Alan Coe never really had to push his daughter, he was still there for her when she needed it.

“My dad has supported me through everything and I’m so lucky to have him,” Kayleigh Coe commented.

Alan Coe also said a few words about his daughter, explaining that in her years at Centennial he did, in fact, teach her.

“I taught her for only one year.”

And that she did teach him a thing or two.

“[Kayleigh taught me] patience,” Alan Coe laughed.

In their time at Centennial, both Coes will leave an impact on the people and place around them, one that will stick, even after they’re gone.

Likewise, Centennial, whether it be the people or the place itself, is leaving a lasting impression on the pair, teaching lessons that may not have been learned otherwise.

Kayleigh Coe, in particular, said that she’ll do well to remember what she learned as she moves out of high school and into the real world.

“One thing I’ve learned [at Centennial] is that no matter how hard things are at the time, you will always come out on the other side.”


This article is featured in the 2019 Senior Issue.  To see the full issue, Click Here!

For more breaking news and photos, follow The Wingspan on Instagram and Twitter @CHSWingspan.